Schools throughout Wood County are quickly running out of calamity days as winter snow and chill continues to pound the area.
All county schools are closed again today.
Many districts, however, have planned to deal with the exigency.
Today’s school closing due to weather marks the fifth and last calamity day that Bowling Green City School had to use.
“There have been years in the past where some of the calamity days were waived,” said Superintendent Ann McVey, “and so I think with such widespread severe weather it’s possible we’ll get some of the days waived. But if not, we have built into our calendar five additional days at the end of the year so that then we would make them up.”
She said that the school buildings are holding up to the cold.
“Chuck Martin, who’s our director of building and grounds, has been in all this week, as have our maintenance and custodial crew, and what they’ve done has just been amazing,” said McVey.
There was one hitch at the middle school in which the frigid air coming in through an intake froze heating systems, “but they were working on that bright and early (Tuesday) morning and really thought they’d be able to get that fixed. Even if they didn’t the building is warm overall, so that would not stop us from attending.”
State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) in a Tuesday email, noted that at this point, there’s no talk in Columbus about more calamity days for schools. Currently, “there has been no proposal or discussion that I’m aware of at this point regarding an expansion of the number of calamity days for this school year.”
Indeed, the current law allowing calamity days will be changing as of July 1. According to information provided by Gardner, calamity days will be “generally” eliminated by state law on that date. Schools would have to make up any missed time if they “fall below the state minimum hours for the year.”
However, another law allows for the making up of days missed with online lesson plans or “blizzard bags” – however, as of July 1, they can only make up three days this way.
Brent Welker, superintendent of Eastwood Schools, said that as of Tuesday all five of their calamity days have been used up.
“If we close days six and seven, we’re going to make that up with online lessons,” he said. Teachers were asked to build extra lessons, accessible via the district website, under the Ohio law for students to complete within two weeks of the missed day. Eastwood elected to prepare lessons for two days, though the law would allow for three.
“And after that, we’re making (the days) up in June,” said Welker.
He said that the school buildings themselves are riding out the storm of snow and cold well.
Adam Koch, superintendent of Otsego Local Schools, said that, as of Tuesday, they also had used up all of their calamity days.
“We don’t have any,” said Koch. “We’ve used all five of ours.”
“Our school calendar dictates that we will make up at the end of the year” any additional days that might be missed.
“The one thing we worry about are our walkers, our kids that have to walk to school and stand at the bus stops,” he said of considerations for closing school. “So the temperature definitely plays a big part in that.”
Koch said that, despite the deep freeze in the area, they aren’t concerned about the effect it may have on the Otsego school buildings.
“We’re blessed with new buildings, so our building’s in relatively good shape. We’ll get the driveways plowed and parking lots plowed and we shouldn’t worry about that.”
Perrysburg has slightly more room to work with regarding its calamity days. Monday was a teacher work day, making Tuesday just the second cancelation of the semester, the first being in November when the region was threatened by tornadoes, Superintendent Tom Hosler said. Schools were closed again today, leaving Perrysburg with two calamity days remaining.
Hosler said he makes decisions whether to cancel school regardless of the number of days left before time must be made up.
“I really don’t pay attention to that,” he said.
“If it’s bad, it’s bad. Whether you have no days, one day or 10 days, you make the decision that’s right for that moment.”
At Elmwood, four calamity days have been used as Monday was a teacher work day with no school anyway.
Superintendent Tony Borton said he would assess roads today to decide about the rest of the week.
“That is the question of the day,” he said about school resuming Thursday. “If the roads don’t get any better” especially if the county stays in a Level 2 snow emergency, the days off may continue.
The district can make up any lost days either during spring break or at the end of the year.
As of today, Northwood has only used three days; the district also was off Monday for a teacher work day.
Superintendent Greg Clark said he hopes to be back in session Thursday, but it depends on the wind and whether the temperature rises enough for salt to work on the roads.
The district has had a few water pipes burst from the frigid temperatures, but nothing that couldn’t be mopped up, said Clark.
Rossford Superintendent Daniel Creps said Wednesday afternoon that with the district closed Thursday, it has expended four of its calamity days. He said he wasn’t concerned.
“We need to focus first and foremost on student safety,” he said.
He said he hoped the forecast for warming temperatures held true and classes could resume Friday. "We're taking it day to day."
North Baltimore and Lake could not be reached this morning. Lake did announce on Twitter on this afternoon that it would be closed Thursday because of icy road conditions and water damage from a burst pipe in the middle school
(Sentinel staff writers Alex Aspacher, Marie Thomas and David Dupont contributed to this report.)